Employment and Mental Illness

At the start of the year, my partner of four years and I separated. I was left alone in our home, panicked because I didn’t know what was happening to us. I was terrified to be alone. I was terrified that I was losing him.
I had been struggling with my depression and anxiety for years. I was always good at hiding it. But things got so bad that I couldn’t help stare off into space whilst at work. I couldn’t help running to the bathroom to heave into the toilet because I was sick to my stomach. I couldn’t help leaning into the walls because I was dizzy, because I hadn’t had a proper meal in days.
I was not in a good place. And I was terrified to ask for time off. I felt guilty that my coworkers had to pick up slack if I left 15 minutes early. I tried to schedule my counseling on my day off, but of course that didn’t always work.
Eventually, it got so bad at home. My fear that I was going to snap, let myself go, give in to the dark thoughts grew. I no longer had my safe haven, my rock. I was left to fend for myself. And I was terrified.
So many times I reached for the phone, my finger hovering over the emergency number. So many times I contemplated checking myself in somewhere. But I was even too scared to do that.
So, I did the only other thing I could think of.
I ran. I packed up the bare essentials, I took a bus and then a plane, and I found sanctuary at my parents.
My work was really supportive. My bosses were very understanding. All they wanted was for me to get better, for their family member to get back on their feet.
I am so lucky I had their support and love. And I feel silly for being so scared of letting them down. I was lucky to have them and that environment, but there are so many people out there who don’t. There are so many people who struggle, trying to hide themselves, trying to hide the fact that they barely made it out of bed that morning. But they had to. Because they need work. They need money. They can’t afford to take time off, can’t afford to put themselves first.
And that mentality needs to change. Desparetly. Companies need to accept that mental health is just as detrimental as physical health. They need to provide support for their employees. The culture needs to change, to adapt.
Once it does, maybe, people can get the care they need before it’s too late.

Cara’s Corner

I think it’s fair to say that most people want to have a job.

Employment has consistently been shown to be good for overall mental health, and an important part of recovery. It gives us social contacts, structure, physical and mental stimulation and a sense of achievement, on top of the obvious financial remunerations. Studies have shown that people who are unemployed are more likely to have poorer physical and mental health.

Now I am not in any way, shape or form, suggesting everybody should go to work. If you can’t work for whatever reason, then that’s okay. My issue is that people who struggle with their mental health are being prevented from working full time as a result of accessing mental health services, or unable to access services because they aren’t able to take time off work.

There has been a lot of research into the connection between work…

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